One of the most confusing issues for expectant mothers during pregnancy is ultrasound. While it is very pleasant and exciting to see the baby in the womb and watch it move, it is a matter of research whether ultrasound has a harmful effect on a developing baby. In this article, we will answer questions such as how safe ultrasonography is and whether it harms the baby.
Is Ultrasound Harmful during Pregnancy?
Ultrasonography is considered a safe method of fetal monitoring and evaluation. Ultrasound, which has been used on pregnant women for an average of 40 years, is one of the most important tools used in obstetrics. Since ultrasound does not work with X-rays, the teratogenic effect of radiation is not expected to occur in theory. In other words, undergoing an ultrasound during pregnancy is not expected to cause developmental defects in the baby.
In ultrasound, an imaging technique using sound waves (mechanical energy), the sound waves are absorbed or reflected by the end tissues they reach. This absorption or reflection results in the conversion of mechanical energy into heat energy. This can lead to a local temperature increase in the tissues. Prolonged exposure to high doses of ultrasound energy leads to an increase in body temperature. This heat increase is directly proportional to the power and duration of the ultrasonic waves applied.
Another potential risk of ultrasound is cavitation. Cavitation, which can be defined as the formation of temporary or permanent bubbles in the tissue, can cause bleeding, destruction and tissue loss.
In the light of all these, when the effects of ultrasound on the fetus are analyzed, there is no data showing that ultrasound can cause cavitation. Ultrasound is considered safe in terms of the risk of cavitation. When the thermal effect of ultrasound is examined, it is thought that the temperature increase of more than 4 °C and the person staying in this level of ultrasound for more than 5 minutes may have negative effects. However, studies have shown that ultrasound applications to the expectant mother do not result in a temperature increase that could have a negative effect on the fetus. Ultrasound during pregnancy is therefore considered thermally safe.
As a result of all these findings, ultrasound examinations during pregnancy are now considered safe. However, I strongly recommend that ultrasound should only be performed and interpreted when necessary and by experienced and competent people.